The Edmonton Oilers (4-0-0) were in New York City to take on the also perfect Rangers (4-0-0) in a battle of undefeated teams this afternoon. The Oilers were a mite fortunate to escape New Jersey with their perfect record intact, and looked to improve upon their performance and go 5-0-0 for the first time since 1985. Since you’ve seen the headline, you know they did, so let’s get right into it and get to Diamonds ASAP. I don’t care if it burned down, we’re partying.
The Oilers started this one a bit sluggishly, which, if you’ve been paying attention to their afternoon performances of late, you’d probably expect. New York were the better side for about the first five minutes or so before the #Oilers began to assert themselves in the contest. An early 3v5 situation did cause a few moments of anxiousness, however, with Mika Zibanejad going close from Smith’s right on a chance he should have converted.
But the Oilers escaped, and continued to grow into the game until the last few minutes of the first, which saw the Rangers jump out in front against the run of play. Former Oiler Ryan Strome found a streaking Kappo Kaako down the gut before the second overall pick dipsy-doodled his first NHL tally past a helpless Mike Smith. 0-1.
No more blood in the first, and the #Oilers found themselves down a goal heading into the intermission despite a healthy lead in every important rate at 5v5.
The Oilers found themselves shorthanded again thanks to a tough goaltender interference penalty on Zack Kassian that also wiped a tying goal off the board. Luckily, the Oilers managed to stave off the Rangers power play once again to keep the score 0-1.
This would prove important, as a few minutes later, off an offensive zone faceoff win by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom collected the puck and threw a seeing-eye wrist shot past Henrik Lundqvist to tie the game at 1-1.
The game would settle in after this with both sides trading barbs at even strength, and the Oilers doing enough to limit the Rangers’ quality chances while generating a handful of their own.
Eventually, their play was rewarded with a power play of their own with a few minutes remaining in the period. Lundqvist had to be particularly sharp to fight off a couple of chances, but the Oilers couldn’t find a breakthrough.
As it was, the score would remain level at 1-1 heading into the second intermission, with it all to play for in the Windy Apple. The Oilers continued to enjoy a healthy lead in terms of CF%, FF%, S%, SCF% and HDCF% (at 5v5) rates through 40 minutes.
Edmonton came out with some additional jump in the third period and really put the home side Rangers on the back foot. All traffic was one-way toward Lundqvist until about 7 minutes in when Connor McDavid took a tripping penalty on the back of a contentious battle with Zibanejad.
Once again, the Oilers new and improved penalty kill shone, and the Rangers weren’t able to find one and take the lead.
A few moments after the penalty expired, McDavid atoned by drawing a penalty from Brendan Lemieux to send the Oilers back to the man advantage.
And this time, they’d get their marker. Connor McDavid received Leon Draisaitl’s pass in the bottom corner to the left of Lundqvist before trying to find an anxious James Neal in front to tap home. His pass would redirect off of Jacob Trouba and beyond Lundqvist to give the Oilers their first lead of the game, 2-1.
And they weren’t done.
A few minutes after that, the Oilers top line of Zack Kassian, Leon Draisaitl and, of course, Connor McDavid were cooking again. Draisaitl found the puck in the low slot, spun, and redirected it toward the blue paint. Kassian jammed away in front before the whistle blew and the puck somehow found its way in, extending their lead to 3-1 on Draisaitl’s third goal of the young season.
For the next few minutes, the Oilers looked like a competent hockey club, capable of defending a two-goal, third period lead on the road. New York couldn’t apply enough pressure to even bend the Oilers, let alone break them on this day.
With time winding down, Leon Draisaitl tucked in an empty net goal to give the Oilers a 4-1 lead with 15 seconds to go, all but securing the Oilers best start in over 30 years.
This might have been the Oilers best game of the young season. They were good in Long Island too, but they were clearly the better side for about 55 minutes in this one, and absolutely deserved to win this hockey game.
Considering their (perhaps overblown, at least last year) record in afternoon games historically, this was a nice change of pace. Not only did they get the points, but they looked rather impressive doing it. And with this club? You take that every time.
Sure, are the Oilers playing McDavid and Draisaitl too much out of necessity? Absolutely. Are there still too few goals happening with those guys off the ice? 100 emoji. But still. I’ve quite literally never seen them start this well. How can I be anything but jubilant?
*All numbers 5v5 and courtesy Natural Stat Trick.
CF%: 51-22 (!!!) - 69.84%
FF%: 41-17 (!!!) - 70.69%
SCF%: 23-11 (!!!) - 67.65%
HDCF%: 8-5 - 61.54%
Shots: 21-13 - 61.76%
Golazos: 2-1 - 66.67%
The perfect Edmonton Oilers take their 5-0-0 record into Chicago to battle the winless Blackhawks (0-2-0) on Monday. Puck drops just after 6:30 MST. See you then.